Monday, July 31, 2006

It's my life.

Commander Lock: Not everyone believes what you do Morpheus.
Morpheus: My beliefs do not require them to.
—The Matrix

My husband's annual family reunion brings with it a few guarantees. #1 - We will appreciate how fortunate we are that we get to enjoy the sun, the lake, and the company at his step-aunt's lake house estate. #2 - we will want, by the end of the weekend, to either gouge our own eyes out or perhaps the eyes of others if the children don't stop. Doesn't matter what, we just need them to STOP. #3 - we will experience a lecture of some sort about what we're missing out on by not having children (usually by the grandparents), while the parents tell us how the children are making them crazy and destroying their lives.

Never is it more apparent that I am not Mommy material than at the family reunion. Like last year, I see what is supposed to be a vacation transform into a rodeo, wrangling the kids, keeping them off each other, finding out who hit whom and why, locating lost toys, determining what belongs to whom and who stole whose whatever. It's exhausting to watch, and I can't imagine how it must be for the parents. Well, I sort of can, because all I hear from the moms is complaining.

I will say this. The sister-in-law who has been the main culprit in the "Stasha must have babies" campaign has mellowed, and I think she might even get it. She hasn't said anything about "when" we have kids, I must have kids, etc. in two visits now. This is a good thing.

My father-in-law, on the other hand, just loves talking about how great my husband and I are with the kids when we're playing with them. It's true -- we have a lot of fun when the kids are behaving. I was playing with our three-year-old niece and nephew and a giant frisbee sort of thing, while my 6'5" tall husband played monkey in the middle with the older kids (all between 6 and 9). It was a ton of fun, and we loved it! And when the kids started getting too rough, we said "okay, that's enough, Auntie and Uncle are tired," and sent the kids off to their parents. It was fantastic!

But it was shortlived. We left the kids to play by themselves and then came -- not the thanks for playing with them for over an hour -- the guilt. "Oh, come on, now who's going to watch them? They just beat up on each other when no one's around!" The answer? NOT OUR PROBLEM.

The worst part of the trip was the annual pontoon boat ride, always a haven for drama. At first we considered ourselves lucky that we weren't on the boat with all the children. Then we realized we were on the boat with the drunk aunts. The passive-aggressively preachy ones.

Oh, it was fabulous. We got to hear all about how kids these days think it's just fine to get married in their late 20s and not have kids until well into their 30s, when the best thing to do is just have "the kids" right away (because marriage=children). Oh, and did we ever hear it about families with only one child. It's almost as if having no children would be preferable to having only one child. WOW. Of course, as most things are in this family, everything was indirect. There were no direct questions about when we were having children, just insistence and pressure to have many and start NOW, to stop "wasting our time" with traveling and building my business. Oh, she preached and preached, made sure I knew how devastated her oldest daughter was to be single and childless at 36 (I think she's intentionally both); made sure I knew her one daughter was barren and her other, well, let's not talk about how she's wasting her life (single at 32).

To this woman, success at life equals marrying, having babies, and letting your husband make the money. We talked about our plans to travel -- Australia next year, China with friends in 2008 or 2009 -- and she just kept on about how important it was to start a family while you're young.

I wanted to scream at her "It's my life! This is what I want to do with it! We want to travel, to enjoy our vacations instead of having them feel like babysitting. We want to ride on the waverunners and swim to the deep end and not have our eyes glued to the children. It's our life. Just be happy that we're happy."

I should have screamed that, but I decided long ago that it's my husband's responsibility to decide when he wants to tell his family we're not having children. My family knows. My family is fine. This is his deal.


Robin said...

That would drive me insane and make me NOT want to have kids even more! You know, considering I'm sort of on the fence I've already decided if I did go down that road I would only have ONE child. I don't think it's life or death.

Nic said...

I don't think I could have NOT yelled at them. Or politely informed them that if they continued to treat me like crap, I would be mysteriously absent from future family reunions.
It's none of their business! How rude!

britgirl said...

Someone needs to tell them. At least it will (may) reduce the torture. They can't read your minds and the decision to not have children is so alien to most that they probably think they are helping. If you don't tell them you should expect more of the same. It's rather like women expecting men to read their mind. They can't.